By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,232)
Vana Carmona has traveled extensively all over the world throughout her life. “I’ve taken Ralph with me on many of the trips. We’ve seen a lot of fabulous architecture, old and contemporary. We’ve seen a lot of buildings where there have been additions to older buildings. They were very well done. What I’m seeing so far is not one of them, even though it is in the early stages,” Vana said this afternoon at the Hilltop Coffee Shop. The couple took a break from their walk on the Hill where they were telling people about the upcoming meeting tomorrow at 5:30 pm at the East End Community School. The purpose of the meeting is to give the neighborhood an opportunity to see prelilminary plans for a long-anticipated theater annex to the current parish hall theater. The meeting is hosted by the staff of the St. Lawrence Arts Center and its architect, David Lloyd.
The plans the couple were referring to were presented to the Historic Preservation Board at its monthly meeting on December 5th. The plans were for a contemporary building to replace the sanctuary that was torn down a few years ago because it was deemed unsafe by the city previously. Since then, the St. Lawrence staff submitted a previous design that was turned down by the donors because it was too expensive. The staff was told to reduce the building cost to about $7 million rather than the $10 million plus attached to the previous design. At that meeting, the Board recommended changes to the appearance of the “boxy” building before it could approve the proposal.
Ralph, who is an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College, said: “I’ve learned much from Vana’s perspective, globally and domestic, and admire her insights, especially as it relates to the public interest. In this case, the issue is the restoration of the St. Lawrence in our neighborhood. We support the idea of expansion because it fulfills an entertainment need on the Hill. However, it needs to fit the character of the neighborhood. This is akin to one size fits all.”
Vana, a Portland native, whose father founded the Suprwink Schools, is a well-traveled, travel planner. “Architecture needs to reflect its environment. I feel that way. Very strongly. It needs a serious reworking to make it fit into the neighborhood.”
Please see Post # 1,230, dated December 5th herein, for more background information.
editor’s note: at the time of the demolition of the sanctuary back in 2008, large stone pieces of the the sanactuary were buried under the soil of the now vacant lot; perhaps when these are unearthed they could be used somehow in the rebuilding of the sanctuary.